The role of sediment microorganisms in the productivity, conservation, and rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems: an overview
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Mangrove communities are recognized as highly productive ecosystems that provide large quantities of organic matter to adjacent coastal waters in the form of detritus and live animals (fish, shellfish). The detritus serves as a nutrient source and is the base of an extensive food web in which organisms of commercial importance take part. In addition, mangrove ecosystems serve as shelter, feeding, and breeding zones for crustaceans, mollusks, fish of commercial importance, and resident and migratory birds. Although mangroves in the United States are protected, the systematic destruction of these ecosystems elsewhere is increasing. Deforestation of mangrove communities is thought to be one of the major reasons for the decrease in the coastal fisheries of many tropical and subtropical countries.
There is evidence to propose a close microbe-nutrient-plant relationship that functions as a mechanism to recycle and conserve nutrients in the mangrove ecosystem. The highly productive and diverse microbial community living in tropical and subtropical mangrove ecosystems continuously transforms nutrients from dead mangrove vegetation into sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients that can be used by the plants. In turn, plant-root exudates serve as a food source for the microorganisms living in the ecosystem with other plant material serving similarly for larger organisms like crabs.
This overview summarizes the current state of knowledge of microbial transformations of nutrients in mangrove ecosystems and illustrates the important contributions these microorganisms make to the productivity of the ecosystems. To conserve the mangrove ecosystems, which are essential for the sustainable maintenance of coastal fisheries, maintenance and restoration of the microbial communities should be undertaken. Inoculation of mangrove seedlings with plant-growth-promoting bacteria may help revegetate degraded areas and create reconstructed mangrove ecosystems.
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